Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion on Forcing the Spring  CSPAN  August 8, 2014 11:02pm-12:16am EDT

11:02 pm
it ran on television. but this -- so many have contributed to it, too. and that is all part of it. i am not fazed by it. washington d.c., as long as it gives them some hope that some help. i don't care. [applause] i don't care. >> the wanted thank you so much for coming here tonight. i also wanted to give you -- this is actually a very precious object. i don't know if you have gotten one of these before, the national press club coffee mug. >> i have two of them.
11:03 pm
>> well, now you have triplets. they do so much for coming. we will be outside signing a book. i'm sorry. right over here signing a book. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> coming up next on book tv, jo becker writes about the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in her book "forcing the spring". then edward klein. and former washington d.c. merit to the mayor talks about his new autobiography "mayor for life". >> c-span2 providing live coverage of the senate floor proceedings and keep public policy events and every weekend book tv now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors.
11:04 pm
c-span2, created by the cable-tv industry and brought to you as a public service by your local cable satellite provider. watch in hd, like us on facebook, follow us on twitter. >> pulitzer prize-winning reporter jo becker wrote a book "forcing the spring" chronicling the political and legal fight overseeing same-sex marriage paris she recently discussed her book and marriage equality at an appearance in concord, new hampshire. this is an hour and 15 minutes. >> good morning. startle little late. i want to start by thanking a couple of people. i want to thank the concord
11:05 pm
monitor for sponsoring this event. i wanted thank the theater for this terrific video for a place to hold this. and i want to think michael ronan. you may have noticed when you walked in, he has books in the lobby. and jo becker will stick around to sign some afterwards. i hope you will take it vantage of that. i also want to thank jo becker for coming a little bit off the main circuit that book publishers put you want to come to concord. of course she also came to see some old friends. that is one of the things that happens when you work as a reporter in concord. you need a lot of people and say friends for a long time so we an introduction, i think probably
11:06 pm
you read a little bit about this. but i want to say by way of introduction, talk a little bit about joanne might experience with her. at some point during that time she decided that she wanted to leave the monitor. she had a nice office and the st. petersburg times. i want to tell you, all the reporters i ever had, i don't think anyone ever struggle as much with that decision as joe did. she had such a great loyalty to concord and the monitor. she had such a wonderful time as a reporter here. rework, of course, used to reporters coming year, staying a few years and moving on the larger papers. joe came in and talk to me about this two or three times the four she finally decided to take the offer from the st. petersburg times. and then about two or three years later after she had won
11:07 pm
all kinds of awards for investigative reporting "the st. petersburg times" she called me again and said she had an offer from the washington post. what did i think? should she take that? should she stay at the "st. petersburg times"? she felt terribly loyal. they treated her right. she got to do many great stories should she take this opporunity? a couple of years after that she got an offer from the new york times. she did not call me. [laughter] she just took the job. so she has done wonderful work. along the way, of course, she won the pulitzer prize for a series on vice president cheney your, investigative reporting,
11:08 pm
investigative profile of the vice-president of the united states. maybe later on -- here to talk about another subject. maybe later on we can ask your. back in the news recently for evaluating president obama's policy. so what we are here to talk about is a book called "forcing the spring," which is about the incredible movement toward marriage equality in the united states. and i say incredible because in all the time i have been in the news i've never seen a civil rights issue move so fast. never seen it change so quickly. it was just a remarkable thing. and my job tonight is to ask a few questions and get the conversation going. and then we are going to turn the questioning over to you.
11:09 pm
so why don't i just start by getting jo becker to explain why someone with a great job as an investigative reporter at the new york times takes a whole bunch of time off to write a book. >> so i actually was in between to be investigations. and picked up the paper one day. new york times san francisco bureau had a story. of course the lawyer fought each other over the presidency and bush the door in 2000. joining together to file this case. it was the first federal constitutional challenge to same-sex marriage ban. [inaudible conversations] >> okay. sorry about that. it was the first challenge, a federal challenge to same-sex marriage ban. and i thought to myself, however
11:10 pm
ted olson, this conservative that liberals love to hate because he, of course, had one bush verses door, how he can to take this has to be a good story . and i had gotten to know him in the years i covered the bush the door. i got all the background. george bush court nominees. i got nominated more. also figured in this interesting way in the cheney series. one of the few lawyers that stood up and told cheney and his lawyer that you can't go to the supreme court until the supreme court that they don't have any right to review your detainee policies and that these
11:11 pm
people can't even have lawyers. ted olson was the only person, high-level bush administration official. his wife was on board one of those flights. so i called ted and said, i want to do this story. i did this story. and i could not let it go. it was just a really audacious stain. controversial. i mean, there are a lot of people believe at that time that the country was not ready. more importantly, the supreme power was already. i described in the book. and i finally let in are invited some of the lawyers to have been working on this issue for many, many years kind of let them and on the plan.
11:12 pm
it was at reiner's house. rob reiner was instrumental in getting the funding to bring the lawsuit. he know, you don't know how to count to five. on the dining room table. if you do this, if you go forward with this, this dossier on ted olson and every conservative crime is going to be made public. we will take it to the media. and the guy who was the architect of all of this, a young political consultant who is now the head of the human rights campaigner, this operative out of hollywood. in his business partner roentgen unwed the weather
11:13 pm
was the came up with this idea. so do it. that's great. that has really the potential to change the conversation. so once i started following this i wanted to know. i got to know the four plaintiffs. i wanted to know it all turned out for them. >> owl and the world, one of the amazing things about the book is up close and the major characters in the book how did you get that access. >> i went to them after added a story. it is scary. i set the bar really high thinking that they would say no. cy about that.
11:14 pm
anyhow, is this better? so that's much better. i forgot where we were. i went to them. one collective political also lifted if. he would have to be in the room. i would have to be there is lawyer, the with the plaintiff as they wake up and draft accord, be in the political war room. there was litigation. it was also this accompanying, you know, public education campaign and political campaign. i want to be in the war room. my colleagues are being
11:15 pm
pitched on stories. i thought that they would say no because it is a kind of a crazy thing. as any of you who are lawyers out there know, you know, privilege can be waived. and so lawyer client privilege, if someone knew i was in the midst of all of this. you did not really an ounce the book, do a lot of fanfare, announcement. i agree, of course, the only condition was that i was not going to publish before the case said resolve itself. and that was it. that was the only condition. nobody had the right to preview or veto. so why did these people agree to that? and the other thing is actually if you think back to my they were there to have a critique of the book. the disputes. but if you go back at the
11:16 pm
time there were only two states that allow marriage equality. canso these things could have been the people that invited me to buy a reporter . in order to document how sheer hubris and this was the set back the. harvey milk was from san francisco. and i know how many of you have seen the movie milk. but his lesson was come out and tell your story. telling the story matters. tell your story and you can change mine. they believe they agree to all of this because they believe that if people could get to know the four plaintiffs, if they can see what they went through over the course of these five years that it would educate
11:17 pm
people. it would move people and make them see this in a different light. >> challenge the practice. >> normally this idea was the opposite. you have essentially chad griffin who is gay sitting and watching the returns come and barack obama makes history, the first african-american president chad is a democrat, wants to celebrate. he is watching on his computer. the problem was at the up of voter initiative to strip from their right to marry in california. recently enjoy that right. said it was not in the state
11:18 pm
constitution. the voters will then have to change the constitution, and they did. so they were -- a few days later jen and his partner christina and her friend who happened to be robbed and michele reiner are sitting at the polo lounge in hollywood which is a very kind of ritzy place, a meat and replace. and they are talking about, you know, what are we going to do? we can't win in california, overly serious at that point. if we can't win here where can we possibly win? can by circumstance a friend stopped by and heard what they were talking about. you know, you really ought to talk to a friend of mine. my ex brother in law actually. he is a constitutional lawyer, and i think he would be on your side. well, ted olson. and i mean rob reiner, his jaw dropped. he and chad on the night that they decided.
11:19 pm
they were in the naval observatory. they both drove down to the supreme court. it was terrible for them. but sort of immediately they kind of saw that the said game changing kind of potential to have someone like ted camping -- championing his cause. had the chance to turn it from what had been at best a partisan fight into a debate about civil rights. and so they then set out to find the plaintiff. and ted actually had wanted a different set. he had a specific set of criteria. he wanted a bookstore owner. he wanted a cop. and i forget what the other two. they wanted six altogether because they figured what if the opposition turned up something in somebody's background. they just wanted to have more. and he did not want any children. he thought that that was a complicating kind of factor, which is, of course, really
11:20 pm
ironic because if any of you have followed this when justice kennedy and these cases finally got to the supreme court, it was the kids that justice kennedy was very focused on. like what about the 40,000 children in california. aren't a part of the story, the argument? why should they have a say? and so ted did not want that anyhow, they went on this kind of casting call. a very elaborate -- i described in the book. elaborate ruse, telling people they were doing a public education campaign ended a kind of casting call. there were running out of time. when they found chris and sandy, chris perry and turn now wife sandy spill, chris worked for rob. basically the agency that rob reiner had helped to fund. and so they asked him to do it.
11:21 pm
four teenage boys. and they said yes. and paul and jesse who they found through their realtor, actually to much as three letters suggested them. >> how about the people that you could not talk to? how did you represent them fairly in the book? that the people he could not talk to. >> yes. so my biggest challenge was i went somewhere on the other side and ask him, told him i was doing a book, right at the beginning, ashton, you know, can i can hang out for a minute. not going to happen. but he did promise me that he would sit down with me after the case was resolved and would explain everything that he was doing and so i did. i spent hours and hours
11:22 pm
interviewing him about what he was thinking and what he was doing. you know, it is very gratifying to me. these are tough issues. and i did not want to write a book that did not fairly represent the argument on the other side. i didn't want to do that because i am a journalist and want to be fair, but also because people are changing their minds on this issue. he used to have, like i said, when i started the majority of the country is opposed. today the clear majority of the country is in favor. and so you know one of the lessons about this tonight comes up again and again, if you demonize the other side, that is -- it does not affect it. does not change people's mind. i am really grateful.
11:23 pm
particularly it. got it there. any of the carriage. yet it is still very much clearly about, you know, two couples who are in love and to want to get married. there is no question that the book is told from that point of view. i thought that i had done my job. thought that i had treated him with respect. >> there are a lot. this is such an up and down, up and down kind of thing. and no one thought it would take that long either. they did not even know. i mean one of the really tough moments was i was there with him when we drove to court for stay. and, you know, everything
11:24 pm
that is sacred in america went on trial. the history of discrimination in this country, signs of sexuality. i mean, all of these that have never been really put to trial essentially. it was a really very unusual thing. based on the connotations. but on his first day everybody was so nervous. that morning chris was wiping the kitchen counter furiously. i looked at her. he know, the second control. everything else, you know, for ordinary people. you are just too mom's raising four kids. the movie theater.
11:25 pm
the fitness instructor. the next day you are plaintiffs in a major civil rights case stepping up. a crush of cameras and crowns. signs and protesters. it's scary. and so you wade through all of this. you get into a freight elevator and go up to a kind of a holding area. and the marshal comes in and says, you know, if you get any kind it does not have to be but anything, let us know because that is our job. they all just looked stricken. all they could think about was their poor boys. you know, they were harassed the boys were targeted by callers who called up and -- i can't remember. spencer corelli it was telling me doing some work
11:26 pm
one day. it kept calling and calling and calling. basically saying things like your mom is going to burn in hell, just terrible things. you know, and people would find them on facebook and say, you don't have to be all right with this. well, if they were all right, the assumption that somehow we did not have a loving and great family. both of those boys were star pupils, really well adjusted kids. that was really tough the other thing that was tough is waiting to see whether the supreme court would grant on the case. what that means is agree to review the case. the federal district court level, they won on appeal. but they wanted the case to go to the supreme court. why would you want the supreme court to review something that you one? but that was the whole point of it. take it to the highest court in the land. and so they -- we would
11:27 pm
gather. the court basically had something called conferences basically put out a little list. we could not decide any of these cases today. we would gather and everyone would furiously refreshing. okay. it's not today. at one. chris would say to my great. not nice. but they kept adding -- it could be today. if the supreme court denies and did not kick -- take the case there would be getting married wide awake. that was part of the public education campaign component. and so they would have to send out save the dates when not getting married. and it was just -- there were a lot of ups and downs.
11:28 pm
and also like listening to my even the argument, i described a lot about what they're feeling and thinking the justices are debating. and you know talking about a one. justice scalia talks about, you know, i will tell you -- he says to cooper, i will tell you one reason why it is rational. and so he can't adopt. it's like spencer and elliot perry just saying, you know, the children, if they weren't adopted. but i've really tried very hard in the book. i wanted people to come away really understanding the legal activists, really getting -- if you are -- if your into legal thrillers, i want you to come to the book and read it for that reason. that put together a major civil-rights case.
11:29 pm
i also wanted to find a way back to the personal. i talk a lot about, for instance, some of the gay lawyers in the case. and the kind of special burden that they carried with them. and there is just a wonderful moment. all day. the witness was there to talk and really what he was there talking about was how it plays out. and the lawyers get them ready. a kind of went to a bar. i went with him. they were sitting there. one of the and lawyers said it was like listening -- he tells the other friend it was like being on the therapist's couch. .. with them. they were sitting there and one of the young lawyer said it was like listening, she tells the others there are, it was like being on a therapist's couch. i had to have my lawyers have
11:30 pm
gone but then listening to him talk about how stigma makes people feel, the kind of diminished sense of possibility that people live with when they are part of a group that is hated and discriminated against. and she said i couldn't even call my wife. this young lawyer had married her wife in california when this was possible. she said i couldn't could call my wife, i couldn't call my wife wife because and the expert said, because it felt like a word reserved for other people. she said yeah and then they talked about how we have to own that language. so you sort of get to hear all of this evidence but also have this almost like a cinematic way of telling the story. >> so one of things you do in the book is really give a lot of background information about
11:31 pm
voice and olson. could you talk a little bit about the contrast between them as lawyers and their approach to lawyering? >> yeah, so i describe it in the book this way. ted is like a classical pianist who face with some particularly difficult concerto practices over and over and over again until he has as much an amec kind of precision. david is like a jazz player, always sort of insurgency unexpected rift so they approach getting ready very differently. i think what makes david boies such an effective trial lawyer is he doesn't have a script. he doesn't go in and have a script. at one point, he is questioning a witness and it was a win is
11:32 pm
put on by the other side and he is cross-examining him. the guy said something about he was questioning the expert report that he had prepared in the guy said something like well its my report, it's my report and it was something about the way the guy said it. he threw away his script and said you know, well how many of the experts that you list in your report, how many of them actually did you find on your on? and he said well, he started dancing around in circles. he hands him this piece of paper and a pencil and it's excruciating. you could hear the scratches of the pencil making circle after circle left the circle around the ones that the lawyers told him versus the one he had found on his son. that's the kind of player he is. ted is, i mean he is an amazing advocate in the sense that he is
11:33 pm
always thinking like three-dimensional chess. during the trial he was constantly looking at well do we have everything in the record that we will need on appeal because for those of you that don't know you don't get to put on new evidence or call any new witnesses once the case is decided at the trial level. the judges above just review the record and so he was always thinking in terms of how will this sort of, mostly how will this fall on me error of justice kennedy who was considered a swing vote in chuck cooper told me the same thing. everybody was focused on justice kennedy in making sure they were making arguments arguments that would ultimately appeal to him and in fact and i describe this early on the lawyers came up with a list of terms from
11:34 pm
justice kennedy had offered two other major decisions lawrence v. texas and a case called roamers fico colorado. they pulled phrases about human dignity and all the phrases that he used not just for the legal arguments that they made, they used them of course they are but they gave them to chad griffin's political and every press release and every statement that they made containing that language as well. >> so those lawyers know the supreme court justices. as kennedy the only one they were thinking about? >> well i think look, david at different times said he was sure they were going to get all mine. nobody thought that. i was just bravado and for the headlines but i think that everybody considered justice kennedy the slang and if you look at and this is yet to be decided because the way for those of you who don't know, the way the court ultimately decided
11:35 pm
this was essentially allowed marriages to resuming californ california, one fifth of the country which is a huge victory but not the kind of 50 state decision that they had hoped for. and at one point, but anyway did i answer your question? i think i trailed off there at the end. sorry. >> so at this point, why do we turn it over to the audience and see the questions they have about this issue and about the book. >> can you tell us about the judge? >> yes. judge walker. judge walker is remarkable. he talked to me for the book
11:36 pm
which i was appreciative of him he had, he has a very interesting story. he himself is gay and was not closeted but never made any kind of public announcement about it. he talks about it, about how he grew up thinking and we talked earlier about his diminished possibility. i can never be a gay man and reached the pinnacle of my career. that is what he thought. he tried to date women. he was particularly moved by a young boy. a child who testified about how his parents upon learning he was gay forced him to attend what is called reparative therapy which is widely now condemned by every major psychological group that forced him to attend this.
11:37 pm
it was so hard for him that he ended up being suicidal. he thought of killing himself and he finally ran away from home. he testified about how he struggled then he was alone and he finally rebuilt his life and found a good job. he is working for the denver police department. as he's talking, judge walker is transporting back in time and he told me the story about how he so didn't want to be gay that he underwent a form of reparative therapy himself. and the doctor that he saw told him that because he had never acted out and had never actually had sex with a man he was not gay and he pronounced him cured. and you know judge walker really wanted to believe that was true and he told me about the same time he saw his parents. they were kind of a close family
11:38 pm
and somehow they had had a few drinks and the conversation got around to their sex life. they were remarkably candid that they had their troubles in this area. judge walker said that would have been the time for me to say while i have had my troubles in this area too because i am gay but what he said to me was, but i didn't say that because i didn't want to be one of those people because those people were deviants. that is how homosexuality was characterized. it was a mental disorder and it's hard to imagine today but he gets this case. he is literally leafing through the new cases dropped off by the clerk and he's leafing through it all and he says he was suing the governor of california? and because oh no. i thought when he told me the story that it was because he was
11:39 pm
going to say my personal life is going to become an issue but no he exited just wanted to retire and he was pretty sure that this was not going to be that he wanted to hold a trial. he's looking at this casework back and forth. on the web site people were saying you know, oh well the reason the state discriminated this way is it promotes the optimal child-rearing environment a man and woman raising their biological kid and he said is that the optimal child-rearing environment? the other side people were saying this harms. this has real impact on harming causes real harm to gays and lesbians and the children they are raising and civil unions is second-class, second-best in unconstitutional. so he said well prove that. how does that harm? but he was an interesting
11:40 pm
character. he was not out until after the trial and a columnist from the "san francisco chronicle" wrote a column about him. he said it's not that he hid, it's just more he was a very private person. i was really grateful because it was so unusual to have a judge tell you what he was thinking and feeling at every moment of this trial. i'm not sure there has ever been a reporter embedded in a major civil rights case like in the same way because of the kind of privilege issues that i was raising before. >> you kind of present ted olson as the hero anyway and i'm wondering as you reflect back on it, because we know how he got involved in the process from the front and. was he that much of a change
11:41 pm
maker? he s. a person, or do you think there could've been other good lawyers who maybe weren't as conservative that could have helped the cause forward? >> e, so i would say a couple of things to that. there are many great lawyers who have worked, dedicated their lives to these issues. at that time there weren't a lot of people who were the movement lawyers did not believe as i said before to bring this case or by the way the doma case. doma was the law that was struck down in edie windsor's case that i also read about in the book that prohibited the federal government from from recognizing their urges and states where it's already legal. so there weren't a lot of lawyers that were wanting to take this case. in fact ted, he knew that his involvement would be greeted with great suspicion and it was. people thought he -- and he knew
11:42 pm
he needed someone from the other side are they out to be his partner. david boies was not the first person that he approached. he actually approached a guy named paul smith. paul is an openly gay attorney, constitutional attorney very well-respected who had have brought the lawrence v. texas challenge. he argued in the supreme court that struck down laws. he went to paul and he said would you cocounsel with me on this and paul said i have course thought about bringing this case as in lawrence v. texas justice scalia in the sense that you are opening the door to gay marriage. so paul thought well maybe i should file that case that he talked to supreme court clerks and he said it's very different for justice kennedy to say on the one hand the state can't criminalize private sexual conduct that is protected by the
11:43 pm
constitution and entirely different thing for him to say in my view anyway that the states must bless these unions because justice kennedy is also a federalist. meaning he thinks the rights reserved by the states ought to be protected. so he said no, i wish you luck but i think this is too risky. to your point about with ted olson's involvement game-changing? i would argue that it was and here's why. it's not that there aren't any republicans out there ever whoever came out in support of marriage equality. dick cheney had, not a constitutional rights but in his view the state sought to legalize same-sex marriages. what was game-changing about olson is one, he was making a legal argument he was a
11:44 pm
card-carrying federalist society member. these are not the kind of arguments that most conservative lawyers make. so he was making this conservative legal case for same-sex marriage. and that changed i think a lot of the conversation. one of the lawyers said, one of the lawyers on the team said her own mother hadn't totally accepted her relationship with her wife until ted olson came along. she said it was almost like if he's doing this it can't be all that bad. so not only did garner huge amounts of headlines and there has been i think there was at the time and there still is a lot of resentment about the amount of attention that this case god and the fact that it
11:45 pm
got enough attention that i wanted to do a book about it in hbo is doing a documentary about it. it probably is unfair because there are many other people who did amazing work. down just south of here married but not those who brought the massachusetts challenge, the first of its kind and it didn't get the kind of sustained relentless kind of front page attention and that's probably not fair. but that attention i think was very helpful in catalyzing a conversation taking place in the country. i also think that ken mehlman, and i'll bet a lot of you know who he is. he was the engineer of bush's reelect. ken came out and joined this cause and applied all of the
11:46 pm
political skill he had used giving george bush a second term to this issue opened up an enormous new spigot of money, wall street republican money. ken did that because ted olson was involved. so i think this case had a lot of sort of impact in fact. [laughter] i will ask him and get back to you. >> he received a lot of flak from other news corporations about the fact that you are a straight woman to woman writing about gay issues. how do you approach that? have you approach getting flak about writing about a gay issue? >> i think a lot of -- first of
11:47 pm
all it like to say one of the heartening things about this is the book was incredibly well refused by "the new york times" the washington posts and independent weekly. one of the gratifying things for me was its true and i started to say i think a lot of people were opposed to this case. it was a controversial case to ring and some of the criticism of the book reflects the criticism of the case. but what has been really lovely as having people like elizabeth birch who is the human rights campaign had step then. i did not know her. she said you must read this book. tory osborne who is they had at the gay and lesbian task force wrote never has the history of our movement been told in such compelling detail. but there are some people that think they should be history of
11:48 pm
the entire movement. what this is is not that. i'm a journalist. i am not an historian and what i try to do is tell a story very particular set of characters. a set of really interesting characters. i think there should be many more books written about this movement. no one movement can be captured in a single book. if you go back to the civil rights struggles of the previous century you had taylor branch who wrote about martin luther king and you have a simple justice. there is room for many many more books and i look forward to reading those but i think to say that somehow this case wasn't deserving or if there was much attention to it, it really
11:49 pm
detracts from the enormous sacrifice that these plaintiffs, they put their lives on hold for four and a half years. they went to these incredible ups and downs. i thought they deserved a book and that's like i said it's one chapter in a much larger narrative and there have been books written and there will be more. i know there are more coming. it's becoming something of a cottage industry in publishing these days. >> i was reading in "the new york times" the fact that you focus so much on this issue and i came here trying to figure out why you call this a watershed moment of the civil rights movement. your story, is one story about an entire movement so thank you
11:50 pm
for writing the book and thank you for answering my question as well. >> thank you. >> i'm curious as to what your perspective is now relative to your investigative journalism, career and papers and multipart articles in that sort of thing relative to the enterprise of coming up with the book the investment of time and resources and what did you discover along the way that maybe you anticipated or didn't about how that would be different than your traditional journalistic career? >> a book is very different from a newspaper story. a newspaper story and the ones that i write which are always very long, they might be 5000 works that you have to keep people interested along the way. do -- as book is different. this is a character driven narrative so you have to find
11:51 pm
ways for readers to invest in these characters, to be carried along with their story, to be rooting for them. i don't just mean the one side. i'm a journalist and this is a point of view book but i think you will find chuck cooper is every bit of a compelling character with an incredible story. i'm not going to ruin the surprise of it that chuck cooper the lawyer who fought this case all the way to the supreme court has an amazing revolution -- evolution along the way. somebody asked earlier, chris said what were they worried about of what was the low point? one of them was they were so fearful of chuck cooper cross-examining them but it turns out their testimony was intensely intensely impactful on the last person on earth that they thought it would be which was chuck and him personally. you can read about that in the book but we were talking about earlier, one of the things you do in a your "newsweek" article
11:52 pm
is load up everything that you know way up high so you have the lead of any sort of say and here's all the good stuff and you then slowly unpack the good stuff. and a book you want surprises. it's kind of neat because everybody knows the outcome and you know what happens at the end of the book so what has been great is reading the reviews even though you know the review says it's a page-turner. you want to find out in the reason is you get to know these people in the way you didn't drop the five years that he saw the headlines. you want to invest in the people that you are writing about. you want to save some for the surprises for the end anyone to highlight tension. if you read the stories you would never think that david boies and ted olson had a single difference. you would never know how chris and sandy and jeff and paul would connect. you wouldn't know a lot of these things of the ideas to carry people along throughout grade i
11:53 pm
have tried to do that but it's like putting together a giant puzzle. it had boxes and boxes of notes. literally for five and a half years. so trying to figure figure out when do i tell this one thing versus it was a challenge but fun. i actually really enjoyed it. >> i know this is and what you are writing this book for but it struck me listening to people asked questions about ted olson and your belly -- very compelling testimony about his evolution on at least this issue made me think about what you learned about the characters. i know you tell journalistic stories in this book as a narrative of facts and events that occur through time period but what about delving into the characters.
11:54 pm
it seems like somebody like ted olson is a very interesting character. did you get a chance to talk with him at all about his role in bush v. gore and his outrageous taking away of our democracy's? no i'm serious. >> it would probably not surprise you that ted doesn't see it that way but david does. >> but the same person that was doing the plaintiffs in your book and the horrendous things in bush bee gore is doing saintly things in this case and it's interesting and it's like what you said about chuck cooper. i knew him shortly after he clerked for rehnquist and worked in the civil rights division and was trying to subvert everything from ronald reagan and i can imagine him having any kind of an epiphany like you are talking about but it sounds like he's capable as evolving -- of evolving as well. some people have a great manner
11:55 pm
great woman. history but they are not necessarily presidential people but people like ted olson and chuck cooper to me it falls and may be good on issues. everybody is complicated. have you learned anything in that respect talking to these folks? >> yeah one of the things that run throughout the book is this idea of otherness. when you don't know someone who is gay, it's easy to say well they want to get married for the same reasons that we do and in the book one lawyer is very concerned and working for judge scanlan on the ninth circuit. he initially was pretty skeptical of ted's arguments. this was his wing man. he said as he read the arguments and to the arguments in tuesday got immersed into the evidence
11:56 pm
he was convinced that this was in fact unconstitutional. but he said it became personal as well because he got to know the clients. he got to know these four people and he thought they are in love. for whatever reason, he didn't quite understand how hurtful it was to say that you can't have marriage. you can have this other thing. it was that same sort of breakdown of stereotypes which became the democrats and republicans on the team. early on you now one of the other young attorneys on ted's team, staunch republican walks into the war room and the lawyers are plotting about what they are going to put out to the media that day. chad griffin from the clinton white house says to matt mcgill, would you stop dressing like a young republican, you know? [laughter] over time they all came to see
11:57 pm
each other not as people on the other side of the aisle but people who were smart people who over five years, my gosh dave came friends. i think that's a real lesson in this to me is that the more people can see people just for who they are and not stick a label on them, i think people end up realizing that people are a lot more complicated than whatever the stereotypical idea that you might have about the miss. >> would you consider writing in the next book on the subject like that? >> that's a good idea. i'll take that under consideration. >> thinking about how one
11:58 pm
becomes dozens, but there's also another side and i'm curious if there was ever considered. please read a lot in the monitor about marriage being for one man and one woman that no state has defined the concept as far as i know and biologically it's pretty tricky to do. did they ever considered using that? >> i think the evidence of the trial was very much centered on is this a choice because if it's not a choice then constitutionally becomes much more problematic. the evidence was pretty clear in both judge walker in the appeals court above him essentially judge walker said this is clear and this is not something that can be readily changed. so that was what was legally relevant to this particular issue.
11:59 pm
it's interesting, that too a majority of americans now have a pretty clear consensus that it's not a choice. >> hello. you mentioned about the case going to trial. i followed it a bit and there was some of that on television when it was actually taking place or soon after. .. >> actually the argument in the ninth circuit which is kind of a dryer of pellet argument was televised that the trial itself was not. judge walker had a plan to broadcast it by youtube and
12:00 am
chuck cooper when all the way to the supreme court before the trial even got underway. on this issue could the trial be televised in the supreme court ultimately decided in cooper's it could not be. it was interesting chris and sandy, really for the team bringing cases was a real blow because they really have this idea that it was going to be like a scopes kind of trial of evolution. and how were they going to speak to the american public if the american public couldn't even hear the evidence? so that was tough. and ultimately you know there was a moment actually when it was going up and ted olson kind of like the idea of kennedy getting an early preview of this case and so we were talking about that.
12:01 am
chad griffin one of the main characters of the book said kind of like a ps. are you down with being one of the five you know? by e it was a tough blow to them that it was not televised. >> so anyway in the last year or so since the decision came down both in the prop a case and oma or the winter case you know there has been a wave, at least similar if not not more at the state-level challenges to marriage laws in the states and in most of the states they have been overturned. this is more for the benefit of the audience i guess i'm most of the time when these bands are challenged and they are overturned the case that is actually being cited by the
12:02 am
state level is windsor. it's not the case. the winter case you talked about a little bit which is overturning the federal dilma laws so at a certain level if you compare the case and windsor in many ways at this point winter has had a lot more impact. did you feel some way that may be covered or were focused on the wrong case? >> noah because i focused on them both. the case again this is kind of the tale of a group of people who decided to kind of upset the status quo and what they did was really an insurrection. this was against the wisdom of the entire bulgy bt establishment. i think you now, i love being
12:03 am
windsor and her lawyer. there are amazing chapters about that case as well including this wonderful scene where the obama administration had decided to switch. they had been initially defending it. kohl .. if that is really true, tell the attorney general that i will be
12:04 am
praying for them. and so when the administration did decide not to defend, attorney west called. the way he told her is, he says, you know what, sometimes prayers' work. so lots of, i think, you know, really compelling an interesting detail about that case that you have not read in the news. that said, to your legal point, yes, because proposition eight was decided not technicality essentially it does not have precedential value. you cannot point to it and cited as, okay, this is the reason. the windsor case was decided on the merit. they're is a decision. it was, you know, it took all of the arguments that had been made and talked about the importance of marriage. and why marriages and the -- marriage was important. and so when -- i think it's every ban
12:05 am
and i think it is everywhere now under challenge at the state or federal level. uprose state fight, also in every federal case the judge is deciding and has also cited the prop. eight -- i am pretty sure it is every case. the proper a trial record. and g judgments whether sexuality is a choice or the harm it's done to gays and lesbians and their children by telling people that you can't get married. and i think that both of those cases have been hugely beneficial, and we'll have to see what the supreme court decides to do in the end. >> one second. you touched on it briefly about the fact that the entire lgbt movement was behind the fact they were bringing it to the supreme court. what your thoughts on that? even princeton's -- the former
12:06 am
bishop robinson was against the fact it was going to the supreme court. he thought it was too early. in the case of the simple rights movement they didn't push to the supreme court level until the majority of the country was for it. do you think it was too early? >> i think you have to play the what-if game. i thought it wases a great story and i wanted to follow it and rite -- write a book, but what it ted olsen got his right. he didn't want a trial. that trial slowed things down. also didn't want a bunch of things that happened to slow the case down when it was in its middle phase, the appellate case. so what itself got to the supreme court asaphia as he wanted, would the outcome be the same? the concern was not that everybody didn't share the goal. the concern was that five justices of the united states supreme court would vote and
12:07 am
say, these bans are in fact constitutional. and enshrine that into legal precedent, and the worry was, people remembered what happened. bowers was a case that preceded lawrence v. texas. the beauers case was a challenge to georgia's sod my statute -- sodomy statued, and the cop census was it was brought too fast and the supreme court doesn't like to reverse itself. so how much longer could this wait? on the other hand, let's talk about this who-ifs on the other side. the people bringing this thought was that this wasn't just about marriage. that it wases about when a state says that certain kinds of relationships are worthy of something, but others are not, that has consequences going far beyond the able to not to walk down the compile call yourself
12:08 am
married. it's -- in chad griffin's view, it drives things like bullying in school. it drives things like the fact that gay and lesbian teenagers have a higher suicide rate. it drives things like the higher rate of gay and lesbian homelessness, and so from their point of view, it's like, what if another generation or five grades of kids grow up and are still being told this, chris perry touched -- it's bans like proposition 8 did not exist when she was growing up in bakersfield, california, that her entire life would have been lived on a higher aac, and from their point of view, there was no more time to waste. and what if mitt romney had been elected instead of president
12:09 am
barack obama. that was a distinct possibility, and close to happening, and one of the older liberal justices were to die and be replaced by a mitt romney, would there be even a possibility of five votes at that point? and then how much longer would you have to wait then? so, that's the kind of neat thing about history. you can't predict it going into it, and it's hard to know how things would have turned out if it didn't lay out the way it did. >> what really legalized gay marriage around the country, and was it a case? and i know -- kind of the question you always -- well, is it brown or was it the civil
12:10 am
rights movement that changed things in this country, and so i'm asking you that question. i know you focused on that, for one thing you have to write three books at least. but i'm almost hearing your answer, both are important, but i want to put you on the spot a little bit and really want you to choose. was it just some people deciding in a room, deciding a case or was it's movement? >> it is a movement. it's so many important events, right? it is what happened at stonewall when -- are in people who don't know what stonewall is, police used to go into bars and raid gay bars.
12:11 am
you weren't allowed to congregate in bars. so it was the stonewall riots when the police raided a bar in new york city. it was the a.i.d.s. activists who mobilized in a health crisis, and people live cleave jones, one of the main characters of my book and the creator of the a.i.d.s. quilt, it was all of the work that people like evan johnson did on the ground, on the political ground, and it was also -- i know you don't like that answer but it was also litigation. at a certain opinion -- this was in dispute but at a certain point you basically say, if this is a civil right, you can't put civil rights up to a vote. you don't get to put people's basic civil rights up to a vote. you couldn't hold a referendum in new hampshire and say i don't want black people to attend the same school.
12:12 am
not possible. and so i think that the debate over when was it the time to go federal and take it to the court? it wasn't that would ever not part of the movement's plan. it just was a question of when. [inaudible] the terrible crimeses that happens to gay people just because they're gay. >> yes. over the course of this reporting period, this last five years, there was a moment where one of the lawyers -- one of the young gay attorneys on the team, henry, said there are there'd been this rash of terrible teen suicides, and he was -- i don't know if mayor -- remember these but a boy hung himself after being taunted at school. a college student at rutgers, whose roommate taped him in an
12:13 am
intimate act, threw himself off the george washington bridge, and it was sort of this moment where this lawyer enrique said, i think we're making so much progress, i think we're doing so much good and then something like this happens, and, yeah, those -- that kind of thing shocks the conscience. >> one more? >> hi. i have a comment and a question. the comment is, i wanted to add to what you just said because i think it -- in terms of the movement, it's also been brave lgbt people coming out. i think about when i was younger, no one would have watched ellen, and now everybody watches ellen, and i think that as more people have been out, all over the spectrum, whether it's sports person, and it just
12:14 am
becomes part of our life and i think that's a huge issue that shifted just in my lifetime. the question i have, though, is where you think this movement is going? and where do you think the bum -- bumps are going to be? being from california, its bewilders me that so much moves to fast in the northeast and not as much in the west, and i wonder where you see us going in the next few years. >> i want to go back to your point, which is that is a number one reason -- we talk about a movement and talked about different historic moments in the movement and different people, but the bottom line is that the reason that we are where we are today is because people have come out and they've told their story, and nine out of ten people now know someone who is gay or lesbian, and that is -- and that is the none predictor of whether you think that people should be -- that gay and lesbian couples should
12:15 am
be allowed to marry. so there's no question that people who have come out, who have been brave enough to face the discrimination that comes with that, and, again, tell their stories, that's all of the credit goes to them. where is the movement going? i think we're going back to the supreme court pretty quickly. the supreme court can duck if it wants but i don't think it can. right now the two cases -- there's three cases on a fast track to the united states supreme court, to ask -- so they don't do this on a technicality. one in virginia, one in utah, and one in oklahoma. they're all under challenge but those are the fastest moving. it's the appeals court judge upholds the lower court's ruling and that the utah's ban is unconstitutional, one of the most conservative areas of the country issue can't imagine the supreme court would


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on